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Former NORTEP Students Earn Education Degrees

May 14, 2018

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By Derek Cornet

The final cohort of NORTEP (Northern Teacher Education Program) students officially became educators Saturday April 28, 2018 when they were handed the degrees they worked years to earn.

In all, 15 residents of northern Saskatchewan collected Bachelor of Education certificates at a special ceremony held at the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre. The ceremony featured speeches from staff and students, as well as from dignitaries who travel to La Ronge to be at the event. One student who made a speech on behalf of the class was Tamara Ninine, of Southend, who said she’s looking forward to returning home to Southend in a new role.

“I was working with family and child services and I have seen the cycles of abuse and impacts of drug and alcohol in my community,” Tamara Ninine said. “I thought there had to be a better way to improve the socioeconomic status of the people in the community. I thought education was the best fit for me to try and reach the young people out there.”

Ninine also wanted to thank the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) for stepping in to help them complete their education after the provincial government cut NORTEP’s funding in 2016.

She said the final year was difficult because of the decision, adding the uncertainty led her to give up her rental unit and move back to Southend. Ninine then had to commute between La Ronge and Southend every week to finish her degree.

Ninine also credited NORTEP staff for working hard over the years to ensure that they succeed in their studies. She asserted that she would like to take what she learned to become a transition coach to assist young people in her community when they move from the reserve and into the city.

“We wanted to stay as a NORTEP cohort and SUNTEP allowed us to stay together and they accommodated us in every way,” Ninine said, adding that “They (SUNTEP) are the ones who made it a smooth transition for us. Not the government – not anyone else.”

SUNTEP is a four year, fully accredited direct entry Bachelor of Education program offered by the Gabriel Dumont Institute in cooperation with the University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina, and the Ministry of Education in Prince Albert, Saskatoon, and Regina. When NORTEP ceased its operation in 2016, the entire cohort of fourth year students submitted a request to SUNTEP to supervise their internships and offer their remaining classes to enable them meet requirements for their education degree.

NORTEP was founded in 1976 to bring teacher education opportunities to the North. In 2017, the funding from NORTEP was transferred by the Government of Saskatchewan to Northlands College to offer teacher education program. Existing NORTEP students had the option of continuing their studies at the Northlands College.

The article first appeared on LarongeNOW.com. It is reprinted with permission.

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